An Evolving Legacy: Twenty Years of Collecting at the Michener Art Museum

In celebration of the James A. Michener Art Museum’s 20th anniversary, the Museum hosts a monumental exhibition showcasing over 100 works from its permanent collection, including new and rarely seen acquisitions. An Evolving Legacy: Twenty Years of Collecting at the Michener Art Museum is on view throughout six galleries from June 13, 2009 through January 3, 2010 (closing date subject to change due to construction). From early acquisitions of Pennsylvania Impressionist paintings to more recent additions of modern studio furniture and contemporary video art, the works on display share the story of the Museum’s vision for its collections while documenting Bucks County’s vibrant artistic and cultural heritage.
Philip Lloyd Powell


The lead sponsor for An Evolving Legacy is Worth & Company, Inc. with co-sponsorship by Gratz Gallery & Conservation Studio. Additional support comes from Steve Kalafer / Flemington Car & Truck Country Family of Dealerships and Malmark, Inc. This exhibition is also funded in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

“By partnering with artists, donors and community organizations over the past two decades, the Museum has built a rich and varied collection that reveals the changing relationships of artists to their physical and cultural environments as well as the dynamic technical and conceptual innovations that are part of the vibrant Bucks County visual arts tradition,” says Constance Kimmerle, the Museum’s Curator of Collections. “As we culminate a year-long celebration and look ahead towards the Michener’s next 20 years, it’s a delight to present a wide selection of the Museum’s most outstanding and fascinating works, as well as a number of our newest acquisitions.”

An Evolving Legacy features both historic and contemporary art including portraits, figure studies, narrative and genre paintings, landscapes and decorative arts. The exhibition will be housed in six galleries, each of which explores different aspects of the rich history of the Bucks County artistic tradition and reveals the extraordinary growth of the Museum’s collection. Among the highlights are a Frederick Harer (1879-1948) Arts and Crafts style desk and side chair (ca. 1930, walnut with pear and ebony inlay); Phillip Lloyd Powell’s (1919-2008) carved and sculpted walnut fireplace (ca. 1956-58) from the New Hope showroom he shared with designer Paul Evans from 1955 until 1966; Mark Sfirri’s (b. 1952) wall sculpture Rejects from the Bat Factory-Exotics (2006); sketchbooks of painter William Langson Lathrop (1859-1938) and framemaker Bernard “Ben” Badura (1896-1986); and Catherine Jansen’s (b. 1950) full-scale soft sculpture room environment The Blue Room (1970).

From seminars and gallery talks to docent tours and demonstrations, the Museum offers an extensive schedule of programming in conjunction with An Evolving Legacy. A complete list of activities is available online at

Of particular programming note are the Artists Studio Tours, which present the public with a unique opportunity to visit the private work spaces of artists featured in the exhibition. The three tours are as follows: Robert Whitley’s studio in New Hope, Pennsylvania on Friday, June 19 at 10:00 a.m.; Alan Goldstein’s studio in Point Pleasant, Pennsylvania on Friday, June 26 at 10:00 a.m.; and Mavis Smith’s studio in New Hope, Pennsylvania on Friday, October 2 at 10:00 a.m. Each tour is $20.00 ($15.00 for Museum members). Space is limited and advance registration is required by calling (215) 340-9800. Transportation is not included, but driving directions are provided to registrants.

The Museum also hosts “The Art of Collecting,” a special panel presentation on Sunday, November 1 at 2:00 p.m. in the Ann and Herman Silverman Pavilion. A panel of six experts including art collectors, gallery owners, auctioneers and wealth management specialists discuss the many aspects of art collecting, highlighting their experiences and offering tips for others. The presentation is $20.00 ($10.00 for Museum members) and includes admission to the Museum galleries. Advance registration is required by calling (215) 340-9800.

An accompanying publication, also entitled An Evolving Legacy: Twenty Years of Collecting at the James A. Michener Art Museum, includes more than 100 full-color reproductions plus essays and reflections by the Museum’s director and curators that address the development and growth of the collection. Published by The James A. Michener Art Museum, the catalogue is available in the Museum Shop for $35.95 ($32.36 for Museum members).

Annual support for the Michener Art Museum is provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Bucks County Commissioners and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

Michener Art Museum